M.A.L.S., Wesleyan University
When Art Custer arrived at Avon in the fall of 1982, it was a homecoming of sorts. Art’s grandfather, John S. Custer, taught history at Avon from 1930 to 1944, and his father, Edwin Custer ‘43, and uncle, Thomas Custer ‘36, grew up on the campus. Art’s wife Michelle joined the faculty in 1983 as a French teacher, and their three sons Charlie, Tim, and Ben are all Men of Avon (‘04, ‘05, and ‘10, respectively). Along with their cousin Nathaniel, an English teacher, Charlie, Tim, and Ben constitute the fourth generation of Custers to join either the faculty or the student body, or, in the cases of Tim (admissions officer) and Ben (English teacher), both.
In the years since 1982, Art Custer has, as they say, worn a lot of hats at Avon. He has coached varsity cross country and lower level soccer, hockey, and lacrosse; he has lived in three campus dormitories, two houses and an apartment; he has advised the student council, the student newspaper, and the meditation club, and he has served as a college counselor, as dean of faculty, as dean of curriculum and instruction, and as school historian. Through it all, he has taught history—U.S. history, European history, East Asian history, and World history, to name a few. He has taught freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and postgraduates (but he has not taught girls). When he is asked why students should study history, Art makes the same case his grandfather made in the thirties.
“Grampa would paraphrase Otto von Bismarck and say ‘Any fool can learn from his own experience; the wise man learns from the experience of others.’ History is ‘the experience of others.’”
- Art is an active Civil War reenactor, a private in Company B of the 20th Maine Volunteers.
- He has built two double paddle, cedar-strip canoes, which he enjoys paddling on the lakes and coastal inlets of Maine.
- For more than a decade, Art served as a lacrosse referee, officiating games involving all Founders’ League teams (yes, even Avon!) and many Connecticut high schools.